Path moment and Nibbanic element

I’m reading this article by Ayya Khema. I wonder if it is based on EBT?

“The path moment doesn’t have any thinking or feeling in it. It is not comparable to the meditative absorptions (jhana). Although it is based upon them because only the concentrated mind can enter into a path moment, it does not have the same qualities. the meditative absorptions have -in their initial stages - the ingredients of rapture, happiness and peacefulness. Later on, the mind experiences expansion, nothingness and a change of perception. The path moment does not contain any of these states of mind. It has a quality of non-being. This is such a relief and changes one’s world view so totally that it is quite understandable that the Buddha made such a distinction between a worldling and a Noble One. While the meditative absorptions bring with them a feeling of oneness, of unity, the path moment does not even contain that. The moment of fruition, subsequent to the path moment, is the understood experience and results in a turned-around vision of existence. The new understanding recognises every thought, every feeling as stress (dukkha). The most elevated thought, the most sublime feeling still has this quality. Only when there is nothing, is there no stress. There is nothing internal or external that contains the quality of total satisfactoriness. Because of such an inner vision, the passion for wanting anything is discarded. All has been seen for what it really is and nothing can give the happiness that arises through the practice of the path and its results. The Nibbanic element cannot be truly described as bliss, because bliss has a connotation of exhilaration. We use the word “bliss” for the meditative absorption, where it includes a sense of excitement. The Nibbanic element does not recognise bliss because all that arises is seen as stress. “The bliss of Nibanna” may give one the impression that one may find perfect happiness, but the opposite is true. One finds that there is nothing and therefore no more unhappiness, only peace”

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It is hard to say what she is talking about when she uses phrase “path moment”. I don’t think Suttas recognise such thing as a “path moment”. Certainly transformation from puthujjana to ariya is sudden, but the idea of “moment” or any passage of time is in contradiction to nibbana which is changeless state. It has no beginning and the end. Arising of the eye of Dhamma means recognition of timelessness.

thank you for your input. Do you know how the Buddha describes the event that "opening the eye of Dhamma

Ayya Khema’s description consistent with that of the Thai forest teachers. The path moment is referred to as Maggasamaṅgi, the single moment experienced at each Ariya stage when all eight path factors converge.

each time after jhana one sees the dhamma? (assuming one has learnt right view) and at what pooint do different ariyan stages happen? does one know right afger seeing the dhamma the nth time for instance that ah once returner. the non returner or arahant? once returner doesn’t happen at a certain time but gradual?

This gives me impression that one who enters stream doesn not fear death and actually accepts it without any conditions!? Am I inferring right? Anyone?

I have a question related to this…how does such person, who has realised such path/fruit of steam-entry views other people? Can anyone try to shed some light here?

I think it’s worth noting that Ayya Khema was not a Pali scholar or translator. So she used whatever words she had available to her in the context of her training. And because she’s dead now, we can’t ask what she meant. So her talks/books are not actually the best for getting a comprehensive explanation of everything to know about the path imo. But they’re fantastic for inspiration and general wisdom.

For a detailed elaboration on what the Nikayas say and do not say about Nibbana (including the Nibbana element), I would recommend Ajahn Brahmali’s paper What the Nikāyas Say and Do not Say about Nibbāna @ The Open Buddhist University :wink:

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It is synonymous with the perception of impermanence, so any time Suttas describe how someone becomes sotapanna is precisely such description.

Someone expressed opinion that sotapanna after being reborn must undergo once again the same experience of sotapatti, but this is mistaken idea. Knowledge of the Four Noble Truths is firmly established in sotapanna and it is inrevisible, it doesn’t depend on memory, so cannot be forgotten.

so one is born with the right view? it seems one would need to be reminded perhaps?

The stages of Ariya are defined by the Fetters that have been destroyed or weakened. While the practise that leads to the destruction of the Fetters is gradual, the attainment of the stages of Ariya occurs only once, and in a single moment, in each of the four stages. When these moments occur, the knowledge is Sanditthiko, and there is no doubt about ones attainment. After each of these stages has been realised, there is no going backwards.

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When their mind has become immersed in samādhi like this—purified, bright, flawless, rid of corruptions, pliable, workable, steady, and imperturbable—they extend it and project it toward knowledge of the ending of defilements.

They truly understand: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering’.

They truly understand: ‘These are defilements’ … ‘This is the origin of defilements’ … ‘This is the cessation of defilements’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of defilements’.

Knowing and seeing like this, their mind is freed from the defilements of sensuality, desire to be reborn, and ignorance.

When they’re freed, they know they’re freed.

They understand: ‘Rebirth is ended, the spiritual journey has been completed, what had to be done has been done, there is no return to any state of existence.

(DN 2)


Perhaps… if you take phrase “right view” literally, namely view which depends only on thinking and reflection. But this is not so. Arija right view depends on direct experience which is perpetually available and so such ariya as Suttas say is independent on others. He doesn’t have to know Buddha’s words, although certainty contact with Suttas may speed up his progress.

According to this, the arammana/object of path/fruit mind is nothing or peace. Is that so?

This agrees with what is mentioned in the Abhidhamma, only one Magga citta (Path consciousness) arises followed by two or three Phala cittas (Fruition consciousness) in each of the four stages of englightenment. What Ayya Khema is saying is correct according to Theravada tradition.